Elderly drivers: Grieving family calls for greater political courage to deal with 'growing deadly problem'

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Re: Elderly drivers: Grieving family calls for greater political courage to deal with 'growing deadly problem'

Postby open roader » Mon Jan 01, 2018 4:10 pm

I love my father dearly; don't get me wrong. But when it comes to cars and driving them his example to me has been one of 'how not to'.......

My own father, now 80 years of age is, or I'm relieved to now say, was the archetypal aged 'Oops' driver.

Over his long driving life (he was licenced at 21 years of age back in the day) he was involved in 11 major motor collisions, 9 of which were fairly much 100% his fault. He had 8 cars written off outright of which 7 were his own fault, the final write off coming aged 78.

Fortunately he was never responsible for any fatalities, the two collisions he was not at fault in involved fatalities - one motorcyclist skidded across wet tram tracks at night on Bridge Road Richmond in 1979 and went under my father's car wheels in front of eye witnesses who said my father was in the clear and the motorcyclist simply lost control in the rain at night on what used to be a very lumpy road surface with raised tram tracks to boot. In the other collision a teenage boy who was high as a kite in his father's stolen BMW drove head on into my father on a wet Studley Park Road before Christmas 1987 killing the teen and breaking my father's legs. There were plenty of witness to this peak hour collision who also cleared my father of any wrong doing.

As for the other 7 collisions, he had 'oops' moments in all of them, either speeding in tricky/difficult conditions or simply putting his car in the wrong place at the wrong time. Back when random breath testing was becoming a real mainstay of traffic policing in Victoria (circa early 1990's) my father was pulled over by a police breath test unit and blew a positive (ie over .05) sample. He was re-tested back the station and blew over .05 again and yet was not charged, fined or even dealt with in any way other than to be let go with a verbal reprimand as he used the excuse that he was a doctor and urgently needed to get to surgery right away! FFS what kind of a lame excuse is that - I'm a drunk medico who is required to perform urgent surgery so let me go............ YIKES! In addition to this he had an incident in 2012 where a civilian driver signaled/forced him to pull over to the side of the Black Spur Road outside of Healesville and remove the keys from his car refusing to give them back until the police arrived as apparently he was driving so poorly the other driver who pulled him over claimed a drastic collision was sure to happen in the next few bends given it was raining, night time and on a Queens Birthday public holiday long weekend with a road chock full of snow/holiday traffic. The police arrived, rang my mother to come and fetch him and gave him a warning notice........

In 2013 my father aged 75 drove my mother's 4WD into a petrol station, slammed into an unoccupied hatchback and snapped off 2 petrol bowsers clean at ground level. Apparently a car had turned right out onto the road in front of him and he said he was taking evasive action. It was a 50km/hr speed zone and he was wearing heavily mud clogged gum boots whilst driving - the police investigation said he was likely to have been traveling at least 70km/hr to have come up behind the turning car to make it become a reason to take emergency/evasive action (there was no witness to the turning car even happening) either way he cocked up big time.

Decades before the petrol station incident I and my sisters had expressed concern about my father's driving abilities to my dear mother who was openly encouraging my father to continue his driving as it was very much a convenience for her being a woman who still worked from home full time and ran a small farm after hours to have him do the weekly shopping, go into town to get the mail and farm supplies etc. After the petrol station incident the police suspended my father's licence - a move that saw much relief for myself and my sisters. However he was given an option to complete a series of medical and competancy tests after which if he passed he could be given a restricted driving licence.

My father it turns out had mild glaucoma in both eyes which were operated on and took 6 months to settle (he was a practicing doctor for 44 years before he retired for goodness sake - self diagnosis please.....) He was diagnosed with a nerve/muscular issue in his right leg where when seated on his buttocks he was unable to extend his calf muscle to lift the foot off either brake or throttle pedals, he was also on no less than 9 different forms of daily prescription medication of which 3 specifically had drowsiness/ no machinery operations as contraindicators and to top it off he was diagnosed with inoperable carpel tunnel in both wrists! Despite all of the medical issues, despite the fact that he took no less than 5 attempts to pass the theoretical examination and required a full 6 months of weekly driving lessons before he was even close to passing a driving test; the powers that be in their infinite wisdom, granted him a restricted licence limiting him to a distance within 25km of home and only within broad daylight hours.

As you can imagine my Mother's (and Father's) delight at this decision was equal to my sister's and I despair. At that stage my parents were both well into their 70's - living on a 100 acre farm 20 min. drive from the nearest town on roads that were winding and all at 100km/hr speed zones with kangaroos and wombats littering that section of road right up until the edge of town before speeds slowed. They were well off financially, owned a townhouse in inner city Melbourne which was retained as a 'retire from the farm' option and were really ripe for a move back to Melbourne and retirement. My mother was still working full time as a solicitor from home and at 74 years of age was physically struggling to run their 100 acre farmlet despite the part time assistance she received from her faithful local farm worker. (my father was 'retired' in his mind ie did not do any farm work apart from put the bins out and yet they decided to exercise their democratic right to push on as before, what ever the cost.

The final blow came in 2016 when my father wrote off my Mother's (new) car attempting to parallel park in the Main Street of town and managed to push the front half of the car underneath a camper trailer and 4WD parked in front of his space after clearly hitting the accelerator when he should have been braking (automatic transmission) It takes a lot of 'talent to do that with only a 2.5m run up............ Finally my mother saw the writing on the wall and handed his licence to the local police. She now does all of the driving for the both of them and her new car (she is a car proud person believe it or not) does not have a single ding on it where as before it had damage to every single panel bar none. My mother is not a perfect driver but she is very aware of her driving skill limitations in that regard and drives only when she is 100% up for it and when the conditions are easy going.

My point to this prolonged anecodote is that my father was a genuine menace to other road goers. He was a well respected medico in his day and used this as an excuse in the past to avoid facing the music and in more recent time I suspect used his connections in the medical/legal fraternity to somehow prolong his licenced driving 'career' despite a truly massive weight of evidence to the contrary that he be fit to hold a licence let alone be fit to physically drive at all.

As a motorist, former motor cyclist and a cyclist I have a very fine tuned sense of how frail and exposed cyclists / motorcyclists are on the road. Despite public enemy number one being my dear old Dad I and my sisters spent a good 20-25 years worrying about his seemingly unconcionable attitude to all on the road other than himself. We lived in dread - dreading the day he had another 'oops' and killed innocent people. Dreading not only the loss to the victim's extended familar circles but also the backlash these things can produce in small, tight, rural areas and the effect such an event would have on my parents. Dreading the fact that as siblings we only laid our concerns and apprehensions on the line to my parents, never making a direct, positive attempt to intervene and have my father's licence removed despite our gravest concerns for the very worst.

As time passes by now I think elderly drivers and their collision rates etc is indeed multi faceted issue. I personally feel the 'system' is inherently flawed and can be flouted by those who know someone instead of knowing something. I also see that my parents view a driver's licence as more of a entitlement than a privilege and used their own professional connections here and there to maintain the status quo without really spending a moment to step back and take a look at the situation from outside the box. It really was an 'us vs. them' mentality in this regard.

Unless we can change our societal expectations both from a private citizen's and a bureaucratic viewpoint the issue of elderly drivers remaining on the road well beyond all limits of reason and common sense is only to become worse as our population tips over with a demographically massive aged sector demanding their rights and doing what ever is within their means to beat what is currently a pretty pathetic regulatory system. We are choking on all our so called 'rights' to the detriment of what appears nower days to be not so common sense.
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Re: Elderly drivers: Grieving family calls for greater political courage to deal with 'growing deadly problem'

Postby mikesbytes » Mon Jan 01, 2018 8:53 pm

Thanks for sharing Open Roader. I'm sure that many of us noticed the decline of their parents driving, I certainly did with my Father and at some point he decided to give up driving himself.

The pedal mixup thingie, are they more likely to do it on an auto than a manual?
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Re: Elderly drivers: Grieving family calls for greater political courage to deal with 'growing deadly problem'

Postby warthog1 » Mon Jan 01, 2018 10:20 pm

The whole pedal mixup is an indication of incompetence.
If one cant react to tromping on the wrong pedal any other way than pressing it harder, how appropriately and expediently are they going to react to a range of other unanticipated situations?

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Re: Elderly drivers: Grieving family calls for greater political courage to deal with 'growing deadly problem'

Postby warthog1 » Mon Jan 01, 2018 10:34 pm

Thanks for taking the time to share that Open Roader.
I believe your parents' attitude to driving is not uncommon.
Tbh the current licence system supports the view that driving is an entitlement.
One person's "independence" is placed above the safety of other road users.
A person can, practically speaking, keep driving until they draw attention to themselves by colliding.
Bad luck if you're the person who is collected.

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Re: Elderly drivers: Grieving family calls for greater political courage to deal with 'growing deadly problem'

Postby fat and old » Tue Jan 02, 2018 6:54 am

I wonder how many of the older members here have noticed a decline in their own driving abilities? At 53 I’m not “elderly” but I do realise I’m not as sharp as I was. I’ve also noticed that more time out of the car and trucks and esp. not towing means a longer “get comfy” period when getting back into it. The eyes aren’t as good, and I’m going to have to see to that this year. I deliberately avoid distractions too....phone on silent, car Bluetooth off. Radio too. Am I a menace? Oh yeah, and I had a few strokes 5 years ago,

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Re: Elderly drivers: Grieving family calls for greater political courage to deal with 'growing deadly problem'

Postby hunch » Tue Jan 02, 2018 8:01 am

Just one more candle short of elderly here now I'd guess. Arthritic condition means very limited neck rotation - so voluntarily limited driving to a couple times a year on known short routes, but sure I wouldn't pass a strict driving test. Broken back and some nice cobalt rods inserted from simply falling off the bike at ~ 25kph recently for extra points from that condition too. :lol:

My old man was also a shocker, I refused to get in the car with him at the end, but he didn't get to 85 for the retesting phase. Some of the old codgers here were trying to get it phased out a few years back writing to the local paper and State members, if anything, it should come in decades earlier! Pry my laminated card from my cold dead hands might be the aussie motto.

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Re: Elderly drivers: Grieving family calls for greater political courage to deal with 'growing deadly problem'

Postby Tim » Tue Jan 02, 2018 8:58 am

fat and old wrote:I wonder how many of the older members here have noticed a decline in their own driving abilities?


To be honest, yes. 55yo.
Peripheral vision in my case.
If I'm looking out the side window I don't notice as clearly as earlier days when a car in front brakes. I don't see the brake lights as brightly.
Depth, speed or field of view perception has also declined a bit. I can't judge gaps in the traffic (as well as earlier) when pulling into traffic at T intersections.
I'm aware of these issues and err on the side of caution.
It's the decline in performance in areas I'm not consciously aware of that is more of a worry.
I'm quite sure cycling has helped keep most senses and reflex actions fairly sharp but I can't deny a slow degeneration.

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Re: Elderly drivers: Grieving family calls for greater political courage to deal with 'growing deadly problem'

Postby open roader » Tue Jan 02, 2018 6:40 pm

warthog1 wrote:The whole pedal mixup is an indication of incompetence.


This is precisely where my thoughts rest.

My father had difficulty in getting the rubbish bins sorted ie. for at least the past 10 years maybe longer, my mother always complained that he was always putting the recycling stuff into the land fill bin and vice versa. I bet if she was honest about it there may have been a few more glaring incompetencies.

It's hard to make a call on this though because he was and still is a truly brilliant chess player, plays computer chess at the highest level daily - wins far more than he loses and is also razor sharp on fairly complex mathematical problems and can recognize and name a piece of classic music after only listening to it for a few seconds. He is a great exponent of passive resistance - spends far more energy and effort getting out of doing something than actually just doing it. So he able to formulate tactics and scheme ahead of time and yet he can't (or won't) sort the rubbish properly. I always wondered if his sloppy driving was a case of mid over matter with him thinking only of making the destination and completing the task?

Either way my parents and I'm sure many of their generation are living much longer than their own parents did, enjoy better health and greater wealth and with all this life expectations are considerably higher and indeed independence and the right to remain so for as long as one wants to is becoming to be a given.

At age 46 I already notice that I cannot judge vehicle speeds closing in on me as well as I could when I was 26 and I wonder what I'll think of all this when my own driving skills clearly become lesser than they once were.
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Re: Elderly drivers: Grieving family calls for greater political courage to deal with 'growing deadly problem'

Postby warthog1 » Tue Jan 02, 2018 8:05 pm

Yeah I'm 49. I'm not what I was physically either.
I'm active and I'm a shed load fitter than many my age but I'm physically and mentally past my best.
I think it reasonable that at some point in the future I be expected to under go an assessment of my capability to drive including some form of practical assessment.
To leave the system as it is, with an ageing population, is unfair to other road users, particularly the vulnerable.

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Re: Elderly drivers: Grieving family calls for greater political courage to deal with 'growing deadly problem'

Postby PA » Tue Jan 02, 2018 8:13 pm

Here are the statistics for South Australia from 2014 to 2017.
https://www.police.sa.gov.au/__data/ass ... -01-45.pdf

Collision Fatalities To 31/12/2017
91 deaths on SA roads in 2017, 25 over the age of 70 and a further 12 over 60. That's 40% of all SA road deaths!

Considering that older driver in the 70 plus bracket are likely to do less driving the rates of accidents is excessively high. Another point to read in the accident data is P Platers deaths have increased but the injuries have continued to decline.

With around 2 people a week dying from crashes on SA roads each week and this is a very significant number when you know someone involved (I had two very close friends die along with two of their grand children in 2016) the amount of travel we as a society undertake the numbers are extremely low.

I remember the Police saying that 27 of this years deaths the drivers were not wearing a seat belt.
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Re: Elderly drivers: Grieving family calls for greater political courage to deal with 'growing deadly problem'

Postby MichaelB » Tue Jan 02, 2018 8:21 pm

And the Giant store in Adelaide got taken out by an elderly driver. No one was injured apparently...

Trying to reverse out of a car park and hit accelerator. Wasn’t even in the right gear !!!

http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/law-order/car-crashes-into-giant-adelaide-bike-shop-in-hindmarsh-square/news-story/5febba92a6bae3e8ed11201e03bbf333

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Re: Elderly drivers: Grieving family calls for greater political courage to deal with 'growing deadly problem'

Postby trailgumby » Tue Jan 02, 2018 10:34 pm

Needs to have license revoked rather than being demerited.

Lucky no-one was killed.

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Re: Elderly drivers: Grieving family calls for greater political courage to deal with 'growing deadly problem'

Postby fat and old » Tue Jan 02, 2018 11:06 pm

MichaelB wrote:And the Giant store in Adelaide got taken out by an elderly driver. No one was injured apparently...

Trying to reverse out of a car park and hit accelerator. Wasn’t even in the right gear !!!

http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/law-order/car-crashes-into-giant-adelaide-bike-shop-in-hindmarsh-square/news-story/5febba92a6bae3e8ed11201e03bbf333


Yeah,but......it’s a Giant store.... :lol:

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Re: Elderly drivers: Grieving family calls for greater political courage to deal with 'growing deadly problem'

Postby Cheesewheel » Wed Jan 03, 2018 12:13 am

MichaelB wrote:And the Giant store in Adelaide got taken out by an elderly driver. No one was injured apparently...

Trying to reverse out of a car park and hit accelerator. Wasn’t even in the right gear !!!

http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/law-order/car-crashes-into-giant-adelaide-bike-shop-in-hindmarsh-square/news-story/5febba92a6bae3e8ed11201e03bbf333

I'm pretty sure it was somewhere on BNA that someone put up a parody piece about the latest strategy of ISIS is to equip elderly people with cars and pensioner discount shopping coupons ....
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Re: Elderly drivers: Grieving family calls for greater political courage to deal with 'growing deadly problem'

Postby Arbuckle23 » Wed Jan 03, 2018 7:28 am

I am 60 and still consider my driving reflexes OK. Maybe years of Motorsport has helped there. But everytime I see a news report of an older driver having a pedal mixup I tell my son to shoot me if I ever do that. Now while that is obviously a joke between us, he understands that the message is, "if my driving skills drop off noticeably, tell me forcibly about it".

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Re: Elderly drivers: Grieving family calls for greater political courage to deal with 'growing deadly problem'

Postby MichaelB » Wed Jan 03, 2018 8:13 am

(AT) Arbuckle23 - trouble is, most people cant and wont do that.

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Re: Elderly drivers: Grieving family calls for greater political courage to deal with 'growing deadly problem'

Postby Mike Ayling » Wed Jan 03, 2018 8:32 am

Re Pedal Mixup

About 20 years ago the family did a safedriving course and the recommendation there when driving an automatic was to use the left foot for braking and the right for the gas pedal.

Difficult to hit the wrong pedal in these circumstances!

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Re: Elderly drivers: Grieving family calls for greater political courage to deal with 'growing deadly problem'

Postby Procat » Wed Jan 03, 2018 8:46 am

Mike Ayling wrote:Re Pedal Mixup

About 20 years ago the family did a safedriving course and the recommendation there when driving an automatic was to use the left foot for braking and the right for the gas pedal.

Difficult to hit the wrong pedal in these circumstances!

Mike

Would be interesting if the driver accidentally has both feet on the pedals at the same time. :)
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Re: Elderly drivers: Grieving family calls for greater political courage to deal with 'growing deadly problem'

Postby biker jk » Wed Jan 03, 2018 9:19 am

fat and old wrote:
MichaelB wrote:And the Giant store in Adelaide got taken out by an elderly driver. No one was injured apparently...

Trying to reverse out of a car park and hit accelerator. Wasn’t even in the right gear !!!

http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/law-order/car-crashes-into-giant-adelaide-bike-shop-in-hindmarsh-square/news-story/5febba92a6bae3e8ed11201e03bbf333


Yeah,but......it’s a Giant store.... :lol:


The Colnagos that Giant makes were safe at the back of the store. :D

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Re: Elderly drivers: Grieving family calls for greater political courage to deal with 'growing deadly problem'

Postby CKinnard » Wed Jan 03, 2018 9:22 am

Medically speaking, degeneration of vision, reflexes, and cognitive speed and power is due mostly to reduced blood flow to the brain. This is atherosclerosis = arteries clogged with fatty calcified deposits.

I'd be interested to know what lifestyle choices BNA members are taking to counter this.

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Re: Elderly drivers: Grieving family calls for greater political courage to deal with 'growing deadly problem'

Postby fat and old » Wed Jan 03, 2018 3:40 pm

biker jk wrote:
fat and old wrote:
MichaelB wrote:And the Giant store in Adelaide got taken out by an elderly driver. No one was injured apparently...

Trying to reverse out of a car park and hit accelerator. Wasn’t even in the right gear !!!

http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/law-order/car-crashes-into-giant-adelaide-bike-shop-in-hindmarsh-square/news-story/5febba92a6bae3e8ed11201e03bbf333


Yeah,but......it’s a Giant store.... :lol:


The Colnagos that Giant makes were safe at the back of the store. :D


That’s exactly where Ivanhoe (Giant) Cycles keeps them :lol:

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Re: Elderly drivers: Grieving family calls for greater political courage to deal with 'growing deadly problem'

Postby fat and old » Wed Jan 03, 2018 3:45 pm

CKinnard wrote:Medically speaking, degeneration of vision, reflexes, and cognitive speed and power is due mostly to reduced blood flow to the brain. This is atherosclerosis = arteries clogged with fatty calcified deposits.

I'd be interested to know what lifestyle choices BNA members are taking to counter this.


As posted elsewhere, massive lifestyle changes (diet, work, exercise) and prescribed meds reviewed 6 monthly by head doctor. Nothing to do with license, I just didn’t want to screw my family through selfish choices.

And lots of cinnamon 8)

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Re: Elderly drivers: Grieving family calls for greater political courage to deal with 'growing deadly problem'

Postby Nobody » Wed Jan 03, 2018 5:00 pm

CKinnard wrote:I'd be interested to know what lifestyle choices BNA members are taking to counter this.

I believe I'm sharper than I was 10 years ago and I've got diet change to thank for it.

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Re: Elderly drivers: Grieving family calls for greater political courage to deal with 'growing deadly problem'

Postby silentC » Wed Jan 03, 2018 5:04 pm

I am 52 and definitely noticing some deficiencies in comprehension and decision making. Nothing major but just things that make me think "why the hell did I not get that the first time?". I am also getting very forgetful to the point that I cannot recall conversations I had yesterday with my wife. Or so she tells me. I have suggested maybe I'm not the one with the memory problem. The black eye took a few days to go down but she's letting me back in the house now, so all's good.
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Re: Elderly drivers: Grieving family calls for greater political courage to deal with 'growing deadly problem'

Postby Thoglette » Wed Jan 03, 2018 6:49 pm

CKinnard wrote:I'd be interested to know what lifestyle choices BNA members are taking to counter this.

Lots of red wine and coffee :D

More seriously, keeping up the cycling; keeping up a positive attitude. And reviewing my diet: trying to get more greens, beans and (leaner) proteins. Mostly in a small way but I've discovered I really like (fresh) chickpeas, moong beans and lentils. Fresh is the key.
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